Judges 19

19 Feb

[Part #4 in a series looking at the what the Bible says about homosexuality.]

Text: Judges 19 (Specific: Judges 19:22-26)

Key Question: Does this passage say anything implicitly or explicitly about committed, loving, monogamous, covenanted same-sex relationships?


This passage is included on the list of seven references to homosexuality, so we will take a look at it. It is an interesting text for a number of reasons — least of which having to do with homosexuality. In many respects, this narrative echoes and parallels the Genesis 19 account we looked at earlier. 

I am purposefully not doing an in-depth exegetical study/commentary on each passage. I am only looking at these passages in terms of homosexuality. BUT… let me at least say this something more broadly. Two of the major themes in the book of Judges are (1) what happens when “in those days there was no King in Israel and each did as they pleased”. This is a recurring refrain throughout the book — and I think has serious implications for society today. The second fascinating theme that is often overlooked is the importance of the role of women in Ancient Israel. In the book of Judges, we find great examples of women leaders called and ordained by God (like Deborah). But there is another subtext in the book of Judges about women. Throughout the book, how women are treated by Israel coincides directly with the moral decay and ensuing tragedy that befalls Israel. In other words, when women are treated well things go well; when they are not, they don’t. This is actually a fascinating study. And Judges 19 is the culmination of mistreatment of women in disturbing, violent and tragic ways — and I think that is primarily what this narrative is really about.

Interpretive Issues:

Apart from what I noted above, there are no major interpretive issues as they relate to homosexuality. Similar to the Genesis 19 passage, we need to ask both what the narrative says and how narrative should be interpreted and applied.

What the text DOES SAY about homosexuality?

– Again, like in Genesis 19, the only thing I think this narrative says about homosexuality is that homosexual rape — and in this case, all rape — is evil and wrong. My guess is we can all affirm that conclusion.

What the text DOES NOT SAY about homosexuality?

– As noted above, the text does not say anything about homosexuality except to condemn homosexual rape (which is not really about sex). The text says nothing about committed, loving same-sex relationships.

I don’t think this passage really contributes much to the discussion one way or the other (vis-a-vis homosexuality) — but I included it because it is one of only seven direct references in the Bible to homosexuality.

Those are my thoughts on this passage… what are yours? Questions? Observations?

1 Comment

Posted by on February 19, 2010 in Bible & Homosexuality, Uncategorized


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One response to “Judges 19

  1. Ben D.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    <p>John… lol, of course. No worries.</p><p>Bruce… I am familiar with all three of those volumes (Matthew Henry, 1721; Adam Clarke, 1833; and Wycliffe… not really by him, but a conglomeration of different writers.)</p><p>The Wycliffe quote does not say anything or shed any light on the topic at hand… just that this is similar to the homosexual rape depicted in Genesis 19.</p><p>As for Clarke, I am not sure what he means by "genuine sodomites". If he is using the term to mean homosexual, I again ask, where in the text does it say this?</p><p>Matthew Henry is, to me, a prime example of an eisegetical approach to the text — not an exegetical one. He reads into the verse as opposed to extrapolating from it. This violates the principle both of the Hermeneutical Spiral and the Hermeneutical Circle. That said, I still don’t see where in the TEXT he is coming to that conclusion?</p><p>It seems to me that, at best, all we can say is that we "conjecture" that the folks were gay. But I don’t think it is wise to build theologies on conjecture. Again, where in the text does it suggest that in either case we are talking about homosexuals?</p><p>One last thought… I actually think my examples were pretty apropos. Do you really think that what is happening in 21st century American prisons or 21st century college fraternities is actually more extreme than anything going on in Gen 19 or Judges 19? These are actually tame examples.</p><p>The prison and hazing examples seem particularly on-point, because in both cases the activity is designed to humiliate and exercise power of "the other" — precisely what is happening in these passages.</p><p>So to summarize…</p><p>1. Show it to somewhere in the text…</p><p>2. I think ultimately this is irrelevant, as I said earlier. If what you suggest is accurate (there were mobs of gay people running around Sodom) and that the rape was primarily sexually-driven as opposed to power-driven (both I think dubious claims), the most we can really say of these texts is that gay rape is wrong — again, something I hope we can all agree on.</p><p>Now off to bed… continued prayers needed and appreciated.</p><p>BD</p>



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